NFL owners likely will consider expanding the playoffs by two teams, beginning in 2015, when they hold their spring meetings in Orlando next week, but a vote on the subject is uncertain.
A groundswell for raising the number of playoff qualifiers to seven in each conference figures to get plenty of support from the 32 owners. Most notably, Arizona’s Bill Bidwill, who saw his Cardinals go 10-6 and not get in, while Green Bay (8-7-1) qualified by winning the NFC North.
The current format of four division winners and two wild-card teams has existed since 2002, when Houston joined the league as an expansion team, bringing the membership to 32.
“There will be a report on the potential of expanded playoffs,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello on Wednesday. Also on the agenda will be alterations to extra points, changing who oversees video replay reviews, and further clamping down on the use of racial slurs by players during games.
A change in the playoff structure would be needed if 14 teams qualify, with the top seed in each conference still getting a first-round bye. The next six teams would play in what is now the wild-card round, with the second seed facing No. 7, the third seed taking on No. 6 and the fourth and fifth seeds playing each other.
SIGNINGS AND DEALS — The Oakland Raiders signed free agent offensive lineman Donald Penn to a two-year contract. ... The Detroit Lions signed fullback Jed Collins to a one-year contract. ... The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year pact with cornerback and special teams contributor Sherrick McManis. ... The Washington Redskins signed free agent linebacker Akeem Jordan. ... The Dallas Cowboys agreed to terms with Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton on a one-year deal.
AROUND THE LEAGUE — Eric Winston, the Arizona Cardinals’ starting right tackle last season, was elected president of the NFL Players Association. ... Former NFL player Troy Vincent was promoted to executive vice president of football operations for the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Dave Gardi to senior vice president of football operations. ... The Tennessee Titans agreed to a one-year deal with wide receiver/kick returner Marc Mariani, signed a multiyear pact with defensive tackle Antonio Johnson and released Rob Bironas, the franchise’s second-leading career scorer and one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. ... Guard Willie Colon re-signed with the New York Jets.